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Cabernet Day 2013: 1996 Burgess Cabernet Sauvignon

August 29, 2013 10 comments

I’m glad we have all those Grape days – Grenache Day, Chardonnay Day, Cabernet Day, Tempranillo Day (it is also great when those grape days are not overlapping, as Cabernet Day and Tempranillo Day had in 2011). Not that we need an extra reason to have a glass of wine – no, we don’t. But when you have a Grape day to celebrate, that greatly helps with the difficult oenophile issue – what do I open tonight? What do I open, what do I open… Shiraz? No, just had it two days ago… Rioja? Well, may be, but I have only a few bottles… Zinfandel? Not in the mood for… Okay, I’m sure you got the point, and being there, done that uncountable number of times.

When you plan to celebrate a “grape day”, you are done with a good half of the problem – you know what type of wine it should be. As today is a Cabernet Day, my decision was very simple. Need a good bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon, preferably ready to drink. I actually have very few bottles of Cabernet which I consider to be ready to drink (my criteria – 10+ years of age). My choice for today? 1996 Burgess Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Library Release.

Burgess Cabernet Sauvignon

Burgess Cabernet Sauvignon

Burgess Cellars is located on outskirts of Howell Mountain in Napa, and it had being producing wine since 1972. In 1980, the winery started a Library program for its Cabernet Sauvignon wine – each year, a 500 cases or so are put aside in the wine cellar, to let  the wine age in the ideal conditions. The wines are released to the consumers after 10 or 15 years of ageing, when they are actually ready to drink. The wine we opened for the Cabernet Day was the part of this exact Library Release.

Before I will share the tasting notes with you, let me lament for a moment about the wine being an amazing memory facilitator. We shared the bottle with my wife, as we usually do, and once we looked at the label, one of the first thoughts was “ahh, 1996 – this is when we first met!”. My own recollection later on was of an exciting discovery of Wine Til Sold Out (WTSO) – this was one of the very first wines I ordered from WTSO in 2010 at an amazing discount (MSRP: $69, WTSO price: $22.50). Wine’s capability to tune you into the “memory lane” is nothing short of spectacular and truly fascinating. Now, let’s get back to the wine.

1996 Burgess Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Library Release Nape Valley (13% ABV; 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Franc) – Wine was poured into the decanter, but rather to prevent sediment from getting in the glass, not so much for breathing. Dark ruby color, bright enough for 17 years old wine. Dark fruit, some dust and plums on the nose, raspberries and cherries on the palate, high acidity, tannins on the finish. Doesn’t show as typical California Cabernet, rather closer to the Claret style, with high pitch acidity and dialed back fruit. As the wine was breathing, it showed a bit more of the fruit with the warm notes. Drinkability: 8-

There you have it, my friends – my Cabernet Day experience. What was yours? Cheers!

Daily Glass: Great Red, Interesting White and Amusing Pairings

September 5, 2010 1 comment

Let me start with a little disclaimer. When I use the word “interesting” in conjunction with food, typically it’s a bad sign. I use that word really to say “well, yes, it is probably not that bad… but I don’t like it!”. The reason I need the disclaimer is that this is how I would describe white wine called Conundrum – interesting. The wine is made our of 5 different grapes, all grown in California, with the different proportions every year. The grapes are Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, Chardonnay, Muscat Canelli and Viognier, all blended together of course. So the bottle we had over the weekend was from 2007, had being rated 88 by Wine Spectator in the May 2009 issue. The wine is extremely aromatic, with fresh flowers, honey, white peaches and pear on the nose. But my challenge was that all those great aromatics on the nose where not integrated with the rest of the flavors on the palate, so the wine was not balanced – and hence the “interesting” disclaimer comes to play. This is the second time I fail to fall in love with this wine ( feel kind of bad, as wine gets a lot of great reviews) – but the great thing about wine is real unpredictability – every year is a different year! As I do have a bottle of 2008, I will definitely make another attempt, but for now, the verdict for 2007 is…

Drinkability: 7-

Now, let’s talk about different experience. Burgess Cellars had being making wines in California since 1972. One thing which I find very interesting (ok, just to be very careful – here “interesting” is a good thing ), is a Library program, started ion 1980, where the wines would age at the winery before being released to the market. So this weekend we had a chance to try Burgess Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Vintage Selection 1997, which was recently released (and I have to thank Wine Till Sold Out for an opportunity to get it at a great price, $24.99). As I’m referring to Wine Spectator ratings in this post, this wine had a rating of 90. Also, if anyone is curious, this wine consists of 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% Cab Franc and 9%Merlot. Now, in the terms of my “pleasure”-centered ratings, this was a great wine – it had a layered complexity with dark fruit, such as black currant and blackberries, hint of earthiness, eucalyptus and cedar, all supplemented by fresh acidity and round tannins. The wine is ready to drink now, but will continue to evolve for another 5-7 years,  and I’m looking forward to that experience.

Drinkability: 8

Now, talking about amusing pairings  – of course chocolate and red wine is a classic combination, what’s so amusing, right? Take a piece of a good dark chocolate, glass of Cab or Syrah, and you practically guaranteed a good time (I have to note that I usually fail to identify with Port and chocolate, which is also considered classic, but doesn’t work for me). Now, if your chocolate is called Mo’s Bacon Bar made by Vosges Chocolate, the story get’s more interesting – can you dream of such combination on your own? May be not? Mo’s Bacon Bar is a milk chocolate (45% cocoa) with addition of tiny pieces of applewood smoked bacon and applewood smoked salt – and it effectively tastes like that, each and every element is noticeable and surprisingly well integrated together. So this chocolate is fine by itself, now what about wine pairing? It actually did work quite well with the Burgess Cab! I would think that the reason for the tasty pairing is in the ability of Cab to work well with the steak, so it was cutting through the fatty component of the bacon and bringing in fresh acidity to the total combination. In the interest of full report, we also tried the same chocolate with nice LBV Port ( Quinta do Infantado LBV 2000), and the pairing didn’t work all that well – but there is always next time…

So here is your call for action for today: be amused, try something new – and make sure to share your experience!


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